Gen-H Spotlight: Cincy Good Food Fund Series, Part 4 – Cincinnati Public Schools’ Aeroponic Gardens

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Part of the Gen-H mission is to highlight and elevate the good work being done in the Greater Cincinnati community that aligns with Gen-H triple aim goals of healthier people, better care, and lower costs. The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council’s Cincy Good Food Fund is a great example of shared, aligned efforts being leveraged to maximize the availability of – and access to – healthy foods across the region.

There was a total of six organizations and initiatives selected as recipients of Cincy Good Food Fund dollars in 2016. For this six-part series, we’re profiling a different winning project in each weekly installment. This week’s spotlight is on Cincinnati Public SchoolsAeroponic Gardens Pilot Program!

Aeroponic greens
Aeroponic greens
Garden in the classroom

A Meaningful Growing Experience

Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) wanted to find a way to offer a consistent and meaningful food growing experience at all 55 district schools and to empower students and teachers to impact the community with healthy food. With funding from the Cincy Good Food Fund, CPS explored the potential of aeroponic gardens to incorporate food-related lessons. The vertical, soil-less tower garden system with grow lights provides a break-through solution for year-round growing and learning, right in the classroom.

Teachers utilized the gardens for a full school year, administered a pre- and post-survey, and participated in a shared log of best practices to help “pay forward” their experience and promote consistency, sustainability, and community across the district.

Students better understood where healthy food comes from and the benefits of growing food locally, and were able to sample the foods grown and prepared in the classroom. The program’s reach has potential to extend to cooking classes and harvest feasts for the parents and broader community, where students can give tours of the gardens and share what they have learned.

Efforts such as these are critical in Greater Cincinnati, where obesity and poverty are widespread and many residents have little or no access to fresh, healthy food in areas known as food deserts.

Teacher & student

The Cincy Good Food Fund is designed to financially support innovative and promising projects that can make a significant, positive impact on our food system. It helps strengthen the Greater Cincinnati regional food system by supporting healthy food-related initiatives that improve the quality of life in our region.

About the Cincy Good Food Fund

The Cincy Good Food Fund is a program of the GCRFPC, an initiative of Green Umbrella, with support from Interact for Health, The Carol Ann & Ralph V. Haile, Jr./U.S. Bank Foundation, the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, and The Meshewa Farm Foundation.

The Cincy Good Food Fund provides up to $10,000 for innovative projects that promote “Good Food” for our region by addressing one or more of the following GCRFPC priorities:

  • Healthy food access for residents in the region
  • Production of local foods and value‐added food products
  • Community development to support local foods and coalitions
  • Food security for residents in the region
  • Educational programs that promote healthy eating habits
  • Beneficial reuse or minimization of food waste

About the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council

The Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council’s mission is to promote a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system for all within a ten-county region of Greater Cincinnati. It provides grant support for food-related projects in our region that are innovative, impactful, and viable.

Next week we’ll feature part five of our six-part Cincy Good Food Fund series: Ohio Valley Food Connection!

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